||Magna Carta Surety Baron|
William III d'Aubigny was one of the twenty-five medieval barons who were surety for Magna Carta in 1215.
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William was a minor when his father died: his father's lands were taken into the king's hands (with an allowance being paid for William and his siblings), and not released until 1172, when it is likely that William came of age. This points to a birth date of about 1151.
William witnessed charters of King Henry II. From 1190 to 1193 he was Constable of Peveril Castle, known as the Castle of the Peak. He fought in Normandy in the first half of the 1190s. When the future King John rebelled against his brother Richard I, William fought on Richard's side and he was granted a confiscated estate as a reward. When Richard I was freed from being held in Germany in 1194, William went to meet him at Speyer.
William was Sheriff of several counties in the second half of the 1190s:
During the 1190s he served as a royal justice on the eyre circuit.
William remained in favour following the accession of King John. He was often at court and was given official permission to hunt foxes and hares in royal forests; and his liability to scutage was remitted for most of John's reign. In 1208 he was again a justice on eyre. He sent knights to fight with John's forces in Normandy and fought for John in Ireland in 1210. In 1211 he was made Keeper of the Ports of Lincolnshire and Yorkshire.
But his relationship with King John was not always easy. In 1201 he and other barons resisted demands to fight in Normandy, and the price of King John letting him retain Belvoir Castle was to hand over a son as hostage. In 1213 he joined other barons in investigating complaints against the royal administration in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire.
In the early summer of 1215 William joined the barons' rebellion against King John, and he was one of the Surety Barons when the Magna Carta was signed. Later that year he took charge of Rochester Castle, Kent, on behalf of the rebels, but was compelled to surrender and was then held captive in Corfe Castle, Dorset. His life was spared in return for Belvoir Castle being handed over to the royal forces. Along with other rebels he was excommunicated in December 1215.
William was released soon after the accession of Henry III, in return for agreement to a ransom of 6000 marks, of which 1000 marks was paid upfront, with his econd wife Agatha and a son being given as hostage for the remainder. His wife was exchanged for other hostages in 1217: they were held until 1220. William had by now returned fully to allegiance, and he fought on the royalist side in the Second Battle of Lincoln in May 1217. In 1218 he served again as a royal justice on eyre. His lands were restored in the early years of Henry III's reign, and in 1223 an agreement was reached under which the outstanding amount of his ransom could be paid in annual instalments of 49 marks.
William held lands in Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and elsewhere. Among his properties was Belvoir Castle, which featured on his seal; and when he came of age he inherited the Barony of Belvoir.
William married twice. His first wife was Margaret de Umfraville, daughter of Odinel de Umfraville. He remarried in about September 1198 so she must have died before then. William and Margaret had the following children:
William died at Uffington, Lincolnshire in May 1236. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography gives the death date as 6 May; Douglas Richardson, as 7 May. His main remains were buried at Newstead, Lincolnshire; his heart, at Belvoir Priory, Lincolnshire (now in Leicestershire). He had been a benefactor of both Newstead and Belvoir Priories.
"William d’Albini (d'Aubigny) was a relative latecomer to the baronial opposition cause, but one of the movement’s ablest military commanders and the leader of the defence of Rochester against King John in 1215. After John’s son, Henry III, succeeded to the throne in 1216, he showed himself a loyal supporter of the new regime.
"William (after 1146–1236) was the son of William d'Albini II by his wife Maud de Senlis, daughter of Robert de Clare, the grandson of another William, known as 'Brito', and the eventual heir of the first post-Conquest lord of Belvoir, Robert de Todeni. William’s lordship was an extensive one comprising some 33 knights' fees, stretching across much of the east and north Midlands, and partly overlooked by Belvoir (Leics.) itself, dramatically sited on a ridge west of Grantham.
"William was a minor at the time that his father died in 1167 or 1168 and appears to have come of age in about 1172. He witnessed charters of Henry II in England and Normandy, and from 1190 to 1193 served as constable of the castle of the Peak. For his support of King Richard against the rebellion of the king’s brother John, he was rewarded with part of the estate confiscated from the rebel, Roger de Montbegon. In 1194 he travelled to Speyer in Germany, to greet Richard on his release from captivity. Like a number of the Twenty Five, in John’s reign he embarked on the road to rebellion only reluctantly, being by upbringing and instinct a natural royalist. He had long experience of serving in royal administration locally. He served as sheriff of Rutland from 1195 to 1198, as sheriff of Warwickshire and Leicestershire from 1196 to 1198, and as sheriff of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire in John’s first year. In the 1190s and later, he acted as an itinerant royal justice and in 1211-12 he was appointed keeper of the ports in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. In February 1213, as John’s suspicions of the northern lords deepened, he served as a commissioner to look into money allegedly collected by sheriffs and other officials that never found its way into the royal coffers. His kinship to a number of the northern lords may have been a factor in his appointment.
"For all his involvement with royal government under John, however, William was not entirely uncritical of the king’s policies. In 1201 he was party to a baronial confederation objecting to military service in Normandy on the grounds that it was contrary to their terms of tenure. In 1215 William threw his weight behind the baronial opposition shortly after the barons’ takeover of London in May, doing so for several reasons. Almost certainly he had grown disenchanted with the oppressive nature of John’s rule. Five years before, he had been a witness to John’s official account of the reasons for his destruction of the Braose family, thereby associating himself with the king’s actions, while at the same time becoming aware of their arbitrariness. Secondly, he is almost certain to have been influenced by the ties of kinship. He was the first cousin of Robert FitzWalter, lord of Dunmow, to all intents and purposes the leader of the rebellion, and was the uncle of another rebel, Robert de Ros, the lord of Helmsley. It may also be significant that among his knightly tenants was Nicholas de Stuteville of Knaresborough, the greatest baronial debtor to the king of all.
"In June 1215 his experience and social standing ensured his appointment to the Twenty Five and from the autumn, after the renewal of war, he fought actively on the baronial side. In July, after the barons had gone their separate ways, Robert FitzWalter was writing to him to advise of a change of meeting-place for a tournament from Stamford to Hounslow Heath. John’s strategy in the civil war was to counter the baronial challenge by bringing in a force of mainly Flemish mercenaries to help re-take London. The barons, to prevent these men’s passage inland from Dover, made for Rochester, at the bridging point over the Medway, and quickly took the castle, installing William as constable. John retaliated by immediately embarking on siege operations. The castle, though ill-provisioned, was well manned, with some 95 knights and 45 men-at-arms under William’s command, and strong resistance was offered. Both sides fought fiercely. 'Living memory does not recall a siege so closely pressed or so bravely resisted', wrote the Barnwell chronicler. To eke out the meagre food rations in the castle, d’Albini ordered the sick and the wounded to be ejected, a common tactic in medieval sieges; according to the Barnwell writer again, the king had their hands and feet cut off. The turning-point in the siege came in November, when the king’s men successfully undermined one of the keep’s corner towers, bringing it down, and opening a way in. William had no alternative but to surrender, and he and his garrison were despatched to captivity at Corfe in Dorset.
"Following this success, the king made his way to the Midlands, where he directed the siege of William’s castle at Belvoir. After he had issued a threat to starve William himself if the garrison held out, the latter’s son Nicholas, who was heading the defence, hastily offered his surrender. In July 1216, partly through the good offices of his wife, William agreed [on] terms with the king, offering a ransom of 6000 marks. He had handed over 1000 marks of this sum by November when, shortly after the accession of the new king, Henry III, he was released, his wife offering herself as a hostage instead. In 1223 William was permitted to pay off the balance of the ransom in easy instalments of 40 marks a year. William’s career from 1217 was that of a committed supporter of the new Minority regime. He fought on the Regent’s side at Lincoln, and his loyalty was to earn its reward in his appointment as constable of Sleaford Castle (Lincs.). In 1223 he joined the young Henry III on his campaign against Prince Llewellyn and the Welsh at Builth Wells and Montgomery. Two years after this, he was one of the group of counsellors who witnessed the final and definitive reissue of Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest.
"William died on 1 May 1236 at his manor of Uffington, near Stamford (Lincs.). His remains were interred in the priory which he had founded at Newstead, just outside the village; his heart, however, was removed for separate burial at Belvoir Priory. Between 1221 and the early 1230s the future chronicler, Roger Wendover, was prior of Belvoir, a dependent house of St Albans. It seems very likely that he was indebted to d’Albini for his account of the siege of Rochester, which is full of circumstantial detail.
"William was twice married. His first wife was Margery, daughter of Odinel de Umfreville of Prudhoe (Northumberland), who died sometime before 1198, and his second, Agatha, daughter and eventual coheiress of William Trussebut of Hunsingore (Yorks.). William’s heir was yet another William, who died in 1247 leaving only daughters, one of whom, Isabel, married Robert de Ros (d. 1285) of Helmsley, descendant of the lord of that name who was of the Twenty Five, so carrying the d’Albini inheritance to the Ros family.
"The family of d’Albini of Belvoir is not to be confused with that of the same name based at Old Buckenham (Norfolk) and Arundel (Sussex), which held the title of earl of Arundel."
The previous arms shown on this page were "the lion ... used by the d'Aubignys of Arundel, including the 'Illustrious Man'. Sources differ on the correct arms for d'Aubigny of Belvoir." The arms on the page as of August 11, 2015 are those shown for this William d'Aubeney in Richardson's Magna Carta Ancestry.
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